As we age, it seems like sleep becomes more and more challenging. That’s because it is. A variety of things contribute to our quality of sleep going down, including the increase of sleep apnea after menopause. According to Johns Hopkins, “postmenopausal women are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea compared with premenopausal women.” This is because, in menopause, we lose reproductive hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. We need to be working harder to get better, quality sleep as we age. And one way to do that is to ensure that you’re sleeping in the correct position and not the worst sleep position. You may not think that your sleeping position has that much of an effect on your health — if you’re getting a good night’s sleep, that’s all that matters, right?
It turns out that there are sleeping positions that can be damaging to your health. We know — like you needed one more thing to worry about when it comes to sleep. However, knowing this will help you get better quality sleep and make sure that the time you spend awake is also quality time.
So let’s talk about THE one — the worst position to sleep in. Any guesses? Unfortunately, it is the sleeping position that many people find the most comfort in. The worst position for you to sleep in is on your stomach.
Why This Position is the Worst For Your Health
On cold winter nights, few things feel better than bundling up in your bed, laying on your stomach, and curling up like a little ball to stay warm.
Well, your body won’t be thanking you for doing that come the morning. Sleeping on your stomach is quite bad for your health.
Here are a couple of reasons why.
It strains your back and neck.
When you sleep on your stomach, it makes it difficult for your spine to be in a neutral position. This means that you are opening up the possibility of some back and neck problems because your spine is unable to support you. Additionally, you can’t sleep face-down in this position, so you are constantly turning your head to one side or the other, which puts a strain on the ligaments of the cervical spine. Doctors say that they rarely see a stomach sleeper that doesn’t have neck issues at some point in their life.
It makes breathing difficult.
While some people say that sleeping on their stomach alleviates issues with snoring, that may be simply because this position makes it harder to breathe. This position puts pressure on your diaphragm, which can lead to breathing problems while you’re sleeping.
How to Fix It
So, you’re a stomach sleeper, and after reading this, know you need to change that ASAP. But how?
If you can’t seem to kick the stomach-sleeping habit, at least try to do so with a very thin pillow or with no pillow at all. This will help alleviate some of the stress and strain that you place on your neck while you’re sleeping on your stomach.
There isn’t one position that is the best to sleep in, per se. It varies from person to person depending on the reason that you find comfortable, as well as the physical and medical conditions you may have.
If you have back problems, you will likely feel best sleeping on your back. This helps distribute weight across your entire spine rather than putting extra strain on a specific part. Put a pillow under your knees to help ensure that your spine’s natural curve stays as-is.
If you have neck problems, sleeping on your back or your side will give you the best options for sleep.
If you snore and/or have sleep apnea problems, sleeping on your side may help alleviate those issues. According to a study, sleeping on your side is best if these are the problems you’re facing.
If you are pregnant, sleeping on your side is best, specifically on your left side. That is because this position helps get healthy blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your back after 28 weeks is not recommended, as it can result in stillbirth in babies.
Other restful improvements
While your sleeping position plays a significant role in your quality of sleep, there are other things that you can do to improve your sleep. One is to cut out caffeine and alcohol anywhere near bedtime. Instead, switch to camomile tea if you’re looking for a warm drink. This helps naturally calm you down. Magnesium is another great supplement to take before bed. It helps to relax you and also helps promote healthy digestion in the morning. Also, consider minimizing your screen time before bed or wearing blue-light-blocking glasses to mitigate the adverse effects. We are big fans of nighttime routines that cue your body to relax and get ready for bed.
Related Article: If you are one of the lucky few who fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, then we are green with envy for you. But, if you’re like the rest of us who want to look forward to sleep but find it to be a constant struggle, there is hope. Try a sleep app! There are many to choose from, so we suggest some trial and error to see which one works best for you. Check out the best sleep apps you can test-drive tonight.